SRA Webinar Series, Workshop, and Round Table Panel Discussion

Understanding Perceptions of Benefits and Risks Posed by Microbiota of Milks

Project Description

Three regional organizations (ROs) of the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) are again partnering in 2017 to address a controversial topic of global significance: Understanding Perceptions and Evidence of Benefits and Risks of Consuming Fresh Unprocessed Milk. The partnering ROs organized a unique risk analysis project beginning with a webinar series on new scientific evidence and culminating in a workshop and a round table panel discussion at the 2017 SRA annual meeting (December 10-14, Arlington, VA).

RO Project Plan


The safety and health benefits associated with fresh unprocessed milk (certified raw milk in the US or raw drinking milk in the UK) merit consideration by SRA risk analysis practitioners and stakeholders. In the past (FDA, 2003), risk and attendant uncertainty, but not benefits, were estimated for pasteurized and ‘pre-pasteurized’ milk (not fresh unprocessed milk from licensed dairies intended for consumption as certified raw milk). As scientific knowledge of the impacts of the human microbiome on health and disease continues to advance, the next generation (NextGen) microbial risk assessments cannot continue to exclude the microbiota. The partnering SRA ROs organized this project to include a webinar series to provide necessary context on the microbiota and the history of the ‘milk wars’ for meaningful exercise of analytic-deliberative process in a workshop and round table panel symposium at the SRA annual meeting in 2017.

Phase One - Webinar Series: Microbiota Informing NextGen Risks and Benefits

The partnering ROs organized a series of 5 webinar sessions, beginning in January, 2017. The first four webinars will be one hour in duration, and the final webinar is anticipated to be two or more hours in duration. Podcast recordings of the webinars will be prepared for posting on the SRA website.

Download Slides (PDF) of Microbiota Informing Next-Generation Risks & Benefits - August 2017 Webinar by Peg Coleman and Werner North

Download Slides (PDF) of The Bovine Milk Microbiome - May 2017 Webinar by Dr. Mark McGuire

Download Slides (PDF) of Human Milk: Mother Nature's Prototypical Probiotic Food?  - March 2017 Webinar by Dr. Michelle McGuire

Download Slides (PDF) of Protecting the Human Superorganism - January 2017 Webinar by Dr. Rodney Dietert

Phase Two -  Round Table

The partnering ROs held a Round Table Panel symposium for the 2017 and 2018 SRA annual meetings. 

Phase Three - Round Table Discussion

A crowdfunding campaign will run through SRA from December, 2018, until February 9th, 2019, to raise funds for preparation of a 'state of the science' manuscript on benefits and risks of the microbiota of milks, focusing on mechanisms of immune and GI system effects. The manuscript will be submitted for peer-review to the journal Risk Analysis.

For more information on the campaign, click on this link:

Phase Four- International Workshop

The partnering ROs plan to organize a 2- to 3-day international workshop in 2020. Stay tuned for updates as planning continues.

Key Supporting References

  • Addis MF, Tanca A, Uzzau S, Oikonomou G, Bicalho RC, Moroni P. 2016. The Bovine Milk Microbiota: Insights and Perspectives from –omics Studies. Molecular Biosystems DOI: 10.1039/c6mb00217.
  • Dietert RR. 2016. The Human Superorganism: How the Microbiome is Revolutionizing the Pursuit of a Health Life. Dutton, NY, NY. 341 p.
  • Dietert RR. 2013. Natural childbirth and breastfeeding as preventive measures of immune-microbiome dysbiosis and misregulated inflammation. Journal of Ancient Diseases & Preventive Remedies. 1(2):1-8.
  • Food Standards Agency (UK/FSA). 2015. Update on FSA Review of Controls for Raw Drinking Milk. FSA 15/07/04. Available at:
  • Hunt KM, Foster JA, Forney LJ, Schütte UME, Beck DL, McGuire MK, McGuire MA. 2011. Characterization of the Diversity and Temporal Stability of Bacterial Communities in Human Milk. PLoS ONE 6(6): e21313.
  • McGuire MK, McGuire MA. 2015. Human Milk: Mother Nature’s Prototypical Probiotic Food? Advances in Nutrition 6(1):112-123. doi:10.3945/an.114.007435.
  • Mendelson A. 2011. “In Bacteria Land”: The Battle over Raw Milk. Gastronomica 11(1):35-43.
  • National Research Council. 1996. Understanding Risk: Informing Decisions in a Democratic Society. National Academies Press, Washington, DC.
  • Stasiewicz MJ, Martin N, Laue S, Gröhn YT, Boor KJ, Wiedmann M, et al. 2014. Responding to Bioterror Concerns by Increasing Milk Pasteurization Temperature Would Increase Estimated Annual Deaths from Listeriosis. J Food Protection 77:696e–712.